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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Jun;17(6):3305-14.

The centromere enhancer mediates centromere activation in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara 93106, USA.


The centromere enhancer is a functionally important DNA region within the Schizosaccharomyces pombe centromeric K-type repeat. We have previously shown that addition of the enhancer and cen2 centromeric central core to a circular minichromosome is sufficient to impart appreciable centromere function. A more detailed analysis of the enhancer shows that it is dispensable for centromere function in a cen1-derived minichromosome containing the central core and the remainder of the K-type repeat, indicating that the critical centromeric K-type repeat, like the central core, is characterized by functional redundancy. The centromeric enhancer is required, however, for a central core-carrying minichromosome to exhibit immediate centromere activity when the circular DNA is introduced via transformation into S. pombe. This immediate activation is probably a consequence of a centromere-targeted epigenetic system that governs the chromatin architecture of the region. Moreover, our studies show that two entirely different DNA sequences, consisting of elements derived from two native centromeres, can display centromere function. An S. pombe CENP-B-like protein, Abp1p/Cbp1p, which is required for proper chromosome segregation in vivo, binds in vitro to sites within and adjacent to the modular centromere enhancer, as well as within the centromeric central cores. These results provide direct evidence in fission yeast of a model, similar to one proposed for mammalian systems, whereby no specific sequence is necessary for centromere function but certain classes of sequences are competent to build the appropriate chromatin foundation upon which the centromere/kinetochore can be formed and activated.

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